The mission of the program and of the student board is to make service fun and engaging for high school students by turning it into a competition and encouraging a sense of community while inspiring philanthropic lifestyles that transcend graduation requirements.
Program History and Components
In January 2013, student leadership from Lusher Charter School and Benjamin Franklin High School joined with United Way of Southeast Louisiana to develop what is now known as Mission Ignition. The concept is simple: schools compete to complete the most service hours during a one-month period. In the three school years since its inception, the program has grown from two schools to seven, engaging hundreds of students, rallying nearly 8,000 hours of service and inspiring tens of thousands of social media posts about the event.
The Mission Ignition student board, consisting of 30-40 students representing all competing schools, is organized into committees dedicated to coordinating service projects, raising funds, promoting the competition at the schools and maximizing the use of social media as an advocacy tool. Students drive all aspects of the program including competition logistics and strategies for success under the guidance of United Way Staff. Student board members manage social media sites and create all promo videos and collateral.
United Way of Southeast Louisiana helps to enhance and cultivate leadership skills in the students that devote their time and effort to working on the board. At the end of each board cycle, Mission Ignition student board members will have developed their ability to:
- work collaboratively with peers from across the community to envision goals as well as to create and implement strategies for accomplishing those goals;
- experience the rewards of successful collaborative effort;
- engage previously uninvolved peers in collaborative effort on behalf of the larger community;
- secure resources for a philanthropic program; and
- transfer knowledge and passion for volunteerism to post-high school experience (work, college, etc.)
Mission Ignition schools currently include: Lusher Charter School, Benjamin Franklin High School, Haynes Academy, Thomas Jefferson High School, Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, East Jefferson High School, Riverdale High School, and Isidore Newman School representing over 3,000 students in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.
Interschool Volunteer Projects
During Mission Ignition competition month, all competing schools gather on weekends to complete joint service projects, called “Missions.” Previous Missions have included: park clean ups, beautification projects at schools, mentoring young children.